I do already have a sewing machine but it's not technically mine, it's Joanna's old one that she lent to me when she bought a better one. I'm still a sewing novice and I don't know anything about sewing machines, but I liked that it was in a table (it would improve things from sewing cross-legged on the floor, pressing the pedal with my knee) and folds neatly away when not in use. Plus, it's vintage.
When we got home I did a bit of research and discovered that this particular model, the Singer 201K, is the iconic Singer model, considered by many to be the pinnacle of sewing quality.
The 201K model was launched in 1939 and cost a small fortune, several months' wages for some. People paid for their Singers in instalments.
The early Singers were cast iron and weighed a ton. Singer switched to aluminium in the 1950s and mine is one of these later models, dating towards the end of the 201's run. In the early 1960s, after a quarter of a century in production, the Singer 201K was discontinued when it became economically unviable to make.
Mine is in a cabinet very similar to this one, which incorporates a treadle although the machine is electric. I wonder if the cabinet is older than the machine - surely they weren't still making treadle machines by the late 50s?
The 201K only does straight stitching, but since I've not yet used any other stitch style on the machine I'm currently using I'll probably manage. I particularly like that it came with attachments including a rolled hem foot, binding foot and ruffler as standard! Unfortunately The zipper foot is missing (so I'll be stalking ebay for one of those - shouldn't be too difficult to find), but by way of consolation the previous owner invested in one of the optional attachments, the adjustable hemmer, which I'm most intrigued to try out - I usually hand sew invisible hems so it'll make an interesting experiment.
As you can imagine, I'm enormously looking forward to using the 201K for my next sewing project!
Some of the information about the 201K is from sewalot.com. The writer, Alex Askaroff, lives not far from me (in fact I rather wonder if he's not the car boot sale man's machinist friend?). His website's worth a look - there's lots of stuff to read including an interesting History of the Sewing Machine.